Hegel. The Difference Between Fichte’s and Schelling’s System of Philosophy

On Reinhold’s View and Philosophy[1]

It still remains for us to say something about Reinhold’s view of Fichte’s and Schelling’s philosophy and something about his own philosophy.

As for his view of Fichte and Schelling, to begin with, he has overlooked the difference between these philosophies as systems, and, in the second place, he has not taken them as philosophies.

Reinhold seems to have not the slightest inkling that for years there has been a philosophy other than pure transcendental idealism before the public. It is marvelous how he manages to see nothing but an [abstract] principle in philosophy as Schelling has established it, nothing but Egoity, the principle that makes subjectivity comprehensible.[2] Reinhold can say all in one breath that Schelling “discovered that the Absolute so far as it is not mere subjectivity, is nothing more, and cannot be anything more than mere objectivity or mere nature as such:” and that the way to this discovery was the positing of the Absolute in the absolute identity of intelligence and nature.[3] So, at one stroke he presents Schelling’s principle thus: (a) the Absolute, so far as it is not mere subjectivity, is mere objectivity and, hence, not the identity of both, and (b) the Absolute is the identity of both. Quite the reverse: the principle of the identity of subject and object had to become the road to the insight that the Absolute as identity is neither mere subjectivity, nor mere objectivity. Later on he presents the relation of the two sciences correctly. The are “two different views,” not, certainly [as he says], “of one and the same thing (Sache)” but [as he goes on to say], “of the absolute self-sameness, of the all-one."[4] And precisely for this reason neither the principle of the one nor that of the other science is mere subjectivity or mere objectivity. Still less is that in which alone they permeate each other, pure Egoity. Pure Egoity, like nature, gets swallowed up in the point of absolute indifference.

One who is committed to love of and faith in truth, and is not taken in by system, will easily convince himself, so Reinhold opines, that the fault of this solution lies in the way the problem was formulated.[5] But it is not quite so easy to detect where the fault in Reinhold’s description of what Schelling conceived to be philosophy lies, nor how it was possible for him to get hold of it in the way that he has done.

It will not help to point to the Introduction of [Schelling’s System of] Transcendental Idealism itself where the relation of transcendental idealism to the whole of philosophy is established, along with the concept of this whole, for in his discussions of the System of Transcendental Idealism Reinhold confines himself to this Introduction, and he sees in it the opposite of what is there. Nor is it any use to draw attention to certain passages in it, where the true viewpoint is most definitely expressed; for Reinhold himself adduces the most definite passages in his first discussion of this system.[6] These passages assert that in one and only one [of the two] necessary basic sciences of philosophy namely in Transcendental Idealism, the subjective is the first;[7] not that it is the first principle of all philosophy – which is how it is at once turned upside down in Reinhold -; and as purely subjective it is not even the principle of transcendental idealism – it is the subjective Subject-Object that is the principle.

For those who are capable of not taking definite statements to mean the opposite of what they say, it may perhaps not be superfluous to draw attention to the second issue of the first volume of the Journal for Speculative Physics – leaving aside the introduction of the System of Transcendental Idealism itself, and of course no more recent issues of the Journal.[8] In Volume I, no. 2, Schelling expresses himself as follows: “The philosophy of nature is a physical explanation of idealism; – in the far distance nature has already sown the seed for the height it achieves in Reason. – The philosopher is only apt to overlook this, because already in his first act he takes up his object, at its highest level, that is, as the Ego, as consciousness. Only the physicist sees through this illusion. The idealist is right in making Reason the self-creator of everything. He has on his side the very intention of nature with respect to man; but precisely because it is the intention of nature, the idealism [of creative Reason] becomes itself something explicable; and the theoretical reality of idealism coincides with this intent. – When men finally learn to think in a purely theoretical way, in an exclusively objective way without any admixture of the subjective, they will learn to understand this."[9]

Reinhold claims that the main weakness of [modern] philosophy hitherto is this: that thinking has so far been regarded as having the character of a merely subjective activity. He demands that we should attempt to abstract from the subjectivity of thinking.[10]Now, abstraction from what is subjective in the transcendental intuition is the basic characteristic formula (der formelle Grundcharakter) of Schelling’s philosophy. This is inherent, not only in the passages quoted, but in the very principle of his whole system. It is expressed even more definitely in the Journal for Speculative Physics, vol. II, no. 1, in the discussion of Eschenmayer’s Objections to the Philosophy of Nature, objections which are derived from the grounds of transcendental idealism where the totality is posited as an Idea, a thought, or in other words as something subjective.[11]

As far as Reinhold’s view of what is common to both systems is concerned, i.e., their being both speculative philosophies, from Reinhold’s own peculiar standpoint they must appear to be personal peculiarities,so they do not appear to him as philosophies at all. The most essential business, theme and principle of philosophy according to Reinhold is to ground the reality of cognition by way of analysis, that is, by separation.[12] So speculation whose supreme task is to suspend the separation of subject and object in their identity, can, of course, have no significance at all; and thus the most essential aspect of a philosophical system, that of being speculation, cannot come into consideration; it will be nothing but a personal peculiarity and a more or less serious case of mental aberration.[13] Materialism, for example, appears to Reinhold only as a sort of mental aberration that is not indigenous to Germany, and he fails to recognize in it the authentic philosophical need to suspend the dichotomy that takes the form of spirit and matter.[14] If the western locality of the culture from which this system emerged keeps it at a distance from another country the question then is: whether this distance does not originate in an opposite onesidedness of [that country’s] culture. And even if the scientific value of materialism may be quite small, still we should not fail to appreciate that [in D'Holbach’s] Systèm de la Nature, for example, a spirit that is profoundly bewildered by its time is speaking out, and reproducing itself in science. We should not fail to see how the grief over the universal deceit of its time, over the bottomless corruption of nature, over the infinite lie that was called truth and justice, – how this grief, that spreads through the whole, has still kept enough strength to construct for itself the Absolute which had taken flight from the phenomena of life, and to construct it as truth, out of genuinely philosophical need, and with authentic speculation, in a science which appears in a form concordant with the local principle of objectivity – while German culture, on the contrary, nestles down in the form of subjectivity – to which love and faith belong – and often without speculation.

Since the analytical way of philosophizing rests on absolute opposition, it is bound to overlook the philosophical [i.e., speculative] aspect of philosophy precisely because the latter aims at absolute synthesis. It must therefore strike the analyst as a most extraordinary thing that Schelling, as Reinhold puts it, introduced the joining of the finite and the infinite into philosophy[15] – as if philosophy were anything else but the positing of the finite in the infinite. In other words, it strikes him as the most extraordinary thing that philosophizing should be introduced into philosophy.

Reinhold not only overlooks the speculative, philosophical aspect of Fichte’s and Schelling’s systems altogether. He even regards it as an important discovery and revelation when the principles of this philosophy transform themselves for him into what is most idiosyncratic of all things; and what is most universal, the identity of subject and object, is transformed into what is most particular, namely the very personal, individuated individuality of Messrs. Fichte and Schelling.[16] Still it is understandable and necessary enough that Reinhold should thus tumble from the mountain peak of his limited principle and his own peculiar view into the abyss of his limited view of these systems. But it is an unnecessary and spiteful twist for him to explain the private oddity of these systems in terms of ethical corruption (Unsittlichkeit). Reinhold uses this explanatory twist in a preliminary way in the Deutsche Mercur, and he will use it more extensively in the next issue of the Contributions,* and the explanation consists in saying that in these systems ethical corruption has been given the form of a principle and of philosophy. We can call this a wretched evasion, a convenient outlet for embittered malice, etc.; indeed we can scold and miscall it as we like, for this sort of thing is fair game. It is true that a philosophy issues from its time, and if one wants to call the fragmentation of the time its ethical corruption, then philosophy issues from that corruption; but it does so in order to reestablish man from within himself, against the confusion of the time and in order to restore the totality which the time has rent.

As for Reinhold’s own philosophy, he gives a public history of it to the effect that in the transmigrations of his philosophical soul he first wandered into Kant’s philosophy, and after laying that aside, into Fichte’s; from there into Jacobi’s and, after he had left that too, he moved in on Bardili’s Logic.[17] According to the Contributions (p. 163) “he limited his occupation with Bardili’s Logic to sheer learning, pure receiving and following its thought in the most exact meaning of the term in order to subdue his pampered imagination and let the new rationalistic models expel the old transcendental ones from his brain."[18] After this discipline he has now begun to work up Bardilli’s Logic in his Contributions (to a more convenient Survey of the State of Philosophy at the Beginning of the 19[th] Century). These Contributions take the occasion of an event so important for the cultural progress of the human spirit as the dawning of a new century to “congratulate the new century upon the fact that the cause of all philosophical revolutions was actually discovered and so overcome at its very heart – no earlier and no later than in the next to last year of the 18[th] century."[19] La révolution est finie has been very frequently decreed in France. Similarly, Reinhold has already announced several endings of the philosophical revolution. He now recognizes the final end of the ends, even though “the bad consequences of the transcendental revolution will persists for some time.” But he adds the question “whether he might not be mistaken once again and whether even this true and genuine end might not again be only the beginning of still another wrong turning."[20] The question should rather be whether this end, incapable as it is of being an end, could possibly be the beginning of anything.

The founding and grounding tendency, the tendency to philosophize before getting to philosophy has here finally succeeded in expressing itself completely. It has found out just what should be done: philosophy is to be transmuted into the formal element of cognition, that is, into logic.[21]

Philosophy as a whole grounds itself and the reality of its cognition, both as to form and as to content, within itself. The founding and grounding tendency on the other hand, with all the crowded press of its corroborations and analyses, its becauses and insofars, its therefores and ifs neither gets out of itself nor into philosophy. To the rootless worry that grows ever greater the busier it is, every investigation is premature, every beginning is rashness, and every philosophy is a mere preparatory exercise.[22] Science claims to found itself upon itself by positing each one of its parts absolutely, and thereby constituting identity and knowledge at the beginning and at every single point. As objective totality knowledge founds itself more effectively the more it grows, and its parts are only founded simultaneously with this whole of cognitions. Center and circle are so connected with each other that the first beginning of the circle is already a connection with the center, and the center is not completely a center unless the whole circle, with all of its connections, is completed: a whole that is as little in need of a particular handle to attach the founding to as the earth is in need of a particular handle to attach the force to that guides it around the sun and at the same time sustains it in the whole living manifold of its shapes.

But the founding-hunt is always busy searching for the handle, and making the run-up for living philosophy. Making the run-up becomes its true work; its very principle makes it impossible for it to arrive at knowledge and philosophy. Logical cognition, if it actually does advance toward Reason, must be led to the result that it nullifies itself in reaching Reason; it must recognize antinomy as its supreme law. Reinhold’s theme is the application of thinking, and thinking is defined as the infinite repeatability of A as A in A through A.[23] Of course, this is antinomical too; for in application A is in actual fact posited as B. But [Reinhold has] no awareness and no recognition of the presence of this antinomy; thinking its application and its stuff rest peacefully side by side. For this reason thinking, as the faculty of abstract unity, is, like cognition, merely formal [in Reinhold] and all the foundations are supposed to be only problematic and hypothetical until such time as, in the progress through the problematic and hypothetical, we stumble upon “the arch-true in our truth and upon truth through the arch-true."[24] But, to begin with, this is impossible, for from what is formal in an absolute sense one cannot reach anything material; the formal and the material are absolutely opposed.[25] Still less can one arrive at an absolute synthesis – which must be more than a mere fitting together. And in the second place, nothing at all is ever founded by way of the hypothetical and the problematic. The alternative to all this is to connect cognition with the Absolute, so that it becomes an identity of subject and object, of thinking and its stuff, but then cognition is no longer formal; that awkward thing, knowledge, has arisen; and the founding that was meant to come first has got lost again. The fear of slipping into knowledge has no recourse left but to comfort itself with its love, and its faith, and its fixed tendency to keep on to the end with its analyzing, methodizing and storytelling.

If making the run-up does not get one over the ditch, the blame is shoved, not onto its perennial repetition, but onto its method. The true method is supposed to be the method whereby knowledge has already been pulled over to this side of the ditch, to the playground where the running is done. This is the method whereby philosophy is reduced to logic.

We cannot pass at once to the consideration of this method which is to transfer philosophy into the region of the run-up. We must first talk about the presuppositions Reinhold believes are necessary for philosophy – in other words, we must talk about the run-up for the run-up.

The [first] antecendent condition for philosophizing is what Reinhold calls the love of truth and certainty; this is the condition with which the effort to ground cognition must start.[26] And since this will be quickly and easily assented to, he does not dilly-dally over it. And indeed, [we agree that] the object of philosophical reflection cannot possibly be anything else but the true and the certain. However, if consciousness is filled with this object, then a reflection on the subjective, in the form of some love, can find no room in it. It is reflection which first makes the love by fixing the subjective; and of course it makes the love that has so sublime a concern as truth into something utterly sublime – and the individual [Reinhold] who postulates truth because he is animated by this love is utterly sublime too.

The second essential condition of philosophizing is the faith in truth as truth, and this, Reinhold thinks, will not be so easily assented to as the love of it. The word faith alone would have sufficently expressed what he meant to express. With regard to philosophy one might speak of the faith in Reason as being genuine health. The superfluity of the phrase, “faith in truth as truth,” instead of making it more edifying, introduces something odd. The main thing is that Reinhold seriously declares that he should not be asked “what faith in truth is. For he to whom this [...] is not clear in himself does not have, and does not know, the need to find it confirmed in knowledge which can solely proceed from this faith. He does not understand himself in this question,” and so Reinhold “has nothing further to say to him."[27]

If Reinhold has faith that he is justified in postulating [truth] – then we can with equal justification find in the postulate of transcendental intuition the presupposition that there is something that is superior to, and elevated above, all proof and, following from this, the right and necessity of postulating. Reinhold himself admits that Fichte and Schelling have described transcendental intuition, the activity peculiar to pure Reason, as an acting that returns upon itself.[28] But Reinhold, for his part, has nothing to say to anyone who might want to ask for a description of this faith of his. Still he does do more than he feels himself bound to do; he defines faith at least by setting it in an antithesis with knowledge: faith is “holding something to be true, with no firm foundation in knowledge."[29] The definition of what it is to know will be developed by pursuing the problematic and hypothetical founding; there too the sphere that is common to knowledge and faith will be marked out and thus the description will be completed.

Although Reinhold believes that a postulate has spared him the trouble of further argument, it still appears strange to him that Messrs. Fichte and Schelling go in for postulating. He takes their postulate to be an idiosyncrasy “in the consciousness of certain extraordinary individuals endowed with a special sense for postulating, in whose writings pure Reason itself has published its knowledge that is action and its action that is knowledge."[30] Reinhold thinks (p. 143) that he, too, was once a member of this magic circle, and that, having escaped from it, he is now well situated to reveal the secret. His tale told out of school amounts to this: that for him what is universal, the activity of Reason, is transformed into what is most particular, into Messrs. Fichte and Schelling’s idiosyncracy.[31] – Anyone to whom Reinhold’s love and faith are not clear on their own account, and to whom he has nothing further to say, must similarly view him as a member of the magic circle of an arcanum whose possessor, as representative of love and faith, pretends to be furnished with a peculiar sense, an arcanum that establishes and presents itself in the consciousness of this extraordinary individual, an arcanum that seeks to publish itself in the world of sense through [Bardilli’s] Outline of Logic and the Contributions in which this Outline is being worked up, etc.

The postulate of love and faith sounds a bit nicer and gentler than that queer requirement of a transcendental intuition; the public will be more edified by a gentle postulate, and it will be put off by the rough postulate of the transcendental intuition; – but this is not a relevant contribution to the main issue.

We come not to the main presupposition which, finally, is of more direct concern to philosophizing. What must be presupposed antecendently, in order even for the attempt at philosophy to be thinkable, is the arch-true,* as Reinhold calls it, that which is true and certain for itself, the [inconceivable] ground of explanation for every thing that is conceivably true. But what philosophy begins with must be the truth that is the first conceivable one – and indeed it must be the conceivable, i.e., the true first one, which in the meantime is only problematically and hypothetically presupposed in philosophy as a striving. In philosophizing as knowledge, however, the first will only prove itself to be the one possible first solely if and when and so far as one can first show with absolute certainty how and why the first conceivable truth, and the possibility and actuality of the cognizable, as well as of cognition, are possible through the arch-true as the arch-ground of everything manifested in the possible and the actual, and how and why it is true because of the arch-true, which, “outside of its relation to the possible and the actual in which it manifests itself, is the absolutely inconceivable, the absolutely inexplicable and the absolutely unnameable."[32]

We can see that where the Absolute has the form of the arch-true, as it does here, philosophy is not concerned with producing knowledge and truth through Reason. We can see that [Reinhold’s] Absolute in the form of truth is not the work of Reason, because it is already in and for itself something true and certain, that is, something cognized and known. Reason cannot assume an active relation to the Absolute. On the contrary, if Reason were active in any way, if the Absolute were to receive any form through it, the activity would have to be viewed as an alteration of the Absolute, and an alteration of the arch-true would be the production of error. So [for Reinhold] philosophizing means absorbing into oneself with absolute passive receptivity something that is already [in and by itself] fully completed knowledge. One cannot deny that this sort of approach has its conveniences. But there is no need for a reminder that outside of cognition, whether it be belief or knowledge, truth and certainty are absurdities, and that the Absolute becomes something true and certain solely through the spontaneous activity of Reason. But once the convenient device of presupposing a ready made arch-true is adopted, it is easy to comprehend how odd the claim must appear that thinking should be upgraded to knowledge by the spontaneous activity of Reason, or again the claim that nature should be created for consciousness by science, or the claim that the Subject-Object is nothing save what it makes itself by its own activity. According to the convenient habit of thought, the union of reflection and the Absolute in knowledge takes place in perfect accord with the Ideal of a philosophical utopia in which the Absolute itself readies itself for being something true and known, and surrenders itself for total enjoyment to the passivity of a thinking which only needs a mouth agape. Strenuous creative construction, in assertoric and categorial statements, is banished from this utopia. A problematic and hypothetical shaking of the tree of knowledge, which grows in a shady grounding, brings the fruit tumbling down, already chewed and self-digested. When the entire business of a philosophy is reduced to wishing to be nothing but a problematic and hypothetical trial and prelude, the Absolute must necessarily be posited as arch-true and known; – for how else could truth and knowledge issue from the problematic and hypothetical?

But if and insofar as the presupposition of philosophy consists in that which is inconceivable in itself and arch-true, then because and insofar as this is so, the presupposition can only announce itself in a truth that is conceivable. Philosophizing cannot begin from something arch-true but inconceivable; it must begin from a truth that is conceivable. – But not only is this conclusion [of Reinhold’s] quite unproven; the fact is rather that one has to draw the opposite conclusion. If the presupposition of philosophy were the arch-true that is inconceivable, then the arch-true would be announcing itself in its opposite, that is, falsely, if it were to announce itself in something conceivable. One would rather have to say that, though philosophy must begin with, advance through and terminate in concepts, the concepts must be inconceivable. For within the limitation of a concept, the inconceivable is suspended instead of being announced. The union of opposite concepts in the antinomy – which is a contradiction for the faculty of concepts – is the assertoric and categorial appearance of the inconceivable. It is not its problematic and hypothetical appearance; but in virtue of its immediate relation with the inconceivable the antinomy is the true revelation of the inconceivable in concepts, the revelation that is possible through reflection. According to Reinhold, the Absolute is only inconceivable outside of its relation to the actual and the possible in which it manifests itself, which is to say that it can be cognized in the possible and the actual. But this would only be cognition through the intellect and not cognition of the Absolute. For when Reason intuits the relation of the actual and possible to the Absolute, it thereby suspends the possible and actual as possible and actual.[33] These determinations vanish from the sight of Reason along with their opposition. Thus Reason knows, not external appearance as revelation, but the essential being that reveals itself; and it is obliged to recognize that a concept for itself, the abstract unity of thinking, is not an announcing of that being, but its disappearance from consciousness. Of course, in itself the essential being has not disappeared, but it has disappeared from a speculation of this kind.

We now pass to the consideration of what the true business of a philosophy reduced to logic is. Its business is this: “Through the analysis of the application of thinking as thinking, the arch-true is to be discovered and established along with the true, and the true is to be discovered and established through the arch-true."[34] We can see the various absolutes required for this.

(a) “Thinking does not first become thinking in and through its application, and as something applied."[35] Instead, it is its inner character that must here be understood, and this is “the infinite repeatability of one and the same in one and the same and through one and the same. This is the pure identity [...] the absolute infinity that excludes all externality from itself, all temporal and spatial order."[36]

(b) Totally different from thinking itself is the application of thinking. “It is certain that thinking and application of thinking are not at all the same. It is equally certain that in and through the application

(c) some third thing = C must be added to thinking. This is the matter for the application of thinking."[37] This materiality[38] which is partly nullified by thinking, and partly fits into it, is postulated. The warrant and the necessity for accepting and presupposing matter is to be found in the fact that thinking could not possibly be applied if there were none. Matter cannot be what thinking is; for if it were the same, it would not be another, and no application could take place because the inner character of thinking is unity. Hence, the inner character of matter is just the opposite, in other words it is manifoldness. What used formerly to be simply accepted as given in experience, has since Kant’s time been postulated, and this sort of thing they call “remaining immanent.” It is only within the subjective realm, under such names as “facts of consciousness,” that empirically given laws, forms or what you will, are still permitted. The objective realm must be postulated.

The begin, then, with Reinhold’s concept of thinking. As we have already noted above, he locates the basic mistake of all recent philosophy in the basic prejudice and bad habit of taking thinking to be a merely subjective activity. He asks that for the present and provisionally we should make the attempt to abstract from all subjectivity and objectivity of thinking.[39] But it is not difficult to see that this basic mistake or basic prejudice emerges at full strength when thinking is taken to be pure unity, the unity that abstracts from all materiality and is therefore its opposite – especially when this abstraction is followed, as it must be, by the postulate of a matter essentially distinct from and independent of thinking. Thinking, here, is essentially not the identity of subject and object, which is how it must be characterized as the activity of Reason; and it is only in this way, through thinking being both subject and object at once, that abstraction is made from subjectivity and objectivity. In Reinhold’s view, on the other hand, the object is a matter postulated for thinking, so that thinking is nothing but a subjective affair. So even if one wanted to accede to Reinhold’s request, and abstract from the subjectivity of thinking, and posit thinking as being both subjective and objective, and hence as having neither of these predicates, one would still not be permitted to do it. For through the opposition of something objective, thinking is determined as something subjective; absolute opposition becomes the theme and principle of a philosophy that has fallen into reduction through logic.

As the principle is, so the synthesis turns out of course. In his popular jargon Reinhold calls it an “application”; but even in this anemic shape, from which the two absolute opposites would not profit much towards their synthesis, the synthesis does not agree with Reinhold’s claim that the first theme of philosophy should be something conceivable. For even the slight synthesis called application involves a transition of the unity into a manifold, a union of thinking and matter, and hence includes what is called the inconceivable. To be capable of synthesis, thinking and matter must not be absolutely opposed to each other; they must be posited as originally one, and so we would be back with that tiresome identity of subject and object in transcendental intuition, the thinking that is insight (intellectuelles Denken).

In this preliminary and introductory exposition, however, Reinhold does not adduce everything in [Bardili’s] Outline of Logic which might serve to tone down the sort of difficulty that is involved in the absolute opposition. In addition to the postulated matter and its deduced manifoldness, the Outline also postulates an inner capacity and suitability of matter to be thought. Besides the materiality that is to be annulled in thinking, there must be something that cannot be annulled by thinking; and even the perceptions of a horse do not lack it. It is a form that is independent of thinking, and since by the law of nature form cannot be destroyed by form, the form of thinking has to fit itself into it. In other words, besides the materiality that cannot be thought, besides the thing in itself, there must be an absolute stuff which can be represented and is independent of the representing subject, though in representation it is connected with the form.[40] Reinhold always calls this connecting of the form with the stuff ‘application of thinking’ and he avoids the expression ‘representation’ used for it by Bardili. It has, indeed, been asserted that [Bardili’s] Outline of Logic is nothing but [Reinhold’s] Elementary Philosophy warmed over.[41] It does not seem, however, that the reviewer was ascribing to Reinhold the intention of wanting to re-introduce the Elementary Philosophy in the [supposedly] almost unchanged form [of Bardili’s Outline] to a philosophical public which no longer appreciates it. He meant rather that, in his sheer receiving and pure learning of logic, Reinhold had all unknowingly gone to school with himself.

In the Contributions Reinhold himself proposes the following arguments against this view of the matter:

1. First, he [Reinhold] had not looked for his Elementary Philosophy in Bardili’s Outline of Logic. Instead, he had seen in it a certain kinship with idealism. Indeed, because of the bitter scorn with which Bardili referred to Reinhold’s theory every time he had occasion to mention it, he would have expected to find any philosophy rather than his own in Bardili’s.

2. The words “representation,” “represented,” and “mere representation” etc. consistently occur in Bardili’s Outline in a sense radically opposed to the sense in which they were used by the author of the Elementary Philosophy, a fact he [Reinhold], must know better than anyone else.

3. Anyone who claims that the Outline is in any imaginable sense a recasting of Reinhold’s Elementary Philosophy makes manifest the fact that he has not understood the book he is reviewing.[42]

We don’t have to go into the first argument, about the “bitter scorn.” The others are assertions whose cogency can be gleaned from a brief comparison of the main features of [Reinhold’s] Theory[43] with [Bardili’s] Outline.

According to Reinhold’s Theory, “the essential constituents of representations, which form their inner conditions,” are:

(a) a stuff of representation, which is given to the receptivity and whose form is manifoldness,

(b) a form of representation, which is produced by spontaneity. This form is unity.[44]

According to Bardili’s Logic,

(a) thinking, an activity whose basic character is unity.

(b) a matter whose character is manifoldness.

(c) both in Reinhold’s Theory and in Bardili’s Logic the connecting of the two elements (a) and (b) to each other is called “representing,” except that [nowadays] Reinhold always says “application of thinking."[45] Furthermore, form and stuff, or thinking and matter are equally self-subsistent in both books.[46]

With further reference to matter:

(a) one part of it, both in the Theory and in the Logic, is the thing in itself. In the Theory this is the object itself insofar as it cannot be represented, and yet can no more be denied than the representable objects themselves;[47] in the Logic it is materiality that is to be annulled in thinking, the aspect of matter that is unthinkable.[48]

(b) In the Theory the other part of the object is the familiar stuff of the representation,[49] and in the Logic, the indestructible form of the object, a form that is independent of thinking and into which the form of thinking must fit itself since form cannot annul form.[50]

This, then, is the bipartite character of the object. On the one hand an absolute materiality. Thinking cannot fit itself into it; indeed, it does not know what to do with it except to annul it, that is, to abstract from it. On the other hand, a property that again pertains to the object independent of all thinking, and yet a form that makes it suitable to be thought and which thinking must fit into as well as it can. And across this bipartite character of the object, thinking must plunge headlong into life.[51]Thinking comes to philosophy with a broken neck from the tumble into such absolute duality. Although the forms of the duality may change unceasingly, it always gives birth to the same non-philosophy. Not unlike the man who was unknowingly hosted to his own perfect satisfaction from his own cellar, Reinhold finds all hopes and wishes fulfilled in this freshly garnished version of his own doctrine, and finds the philosophical revolutions are at an end in the new century. In the universal reduction of philosophy through logic perpetual peace[52] can now come at once upon the philosophical scene.

Reinhold begins his new labor in this philosophical vineyard – as the Political Journal also begins every issue[53] – with the story that, over and over again, things have turned out differently from what he had predicted. They turned out “different from what he had proclaimed at the outset of the revolution, different from the way he was trying to advance it in mid course, different from the goal which he believed it had attained towards its end; he asks if he might not be mistaken a fourth time."[54] Besides, if the number of previous mistakes can facilitate the calculation of probability, and be relevant with respect to what is called an authority, then we may add several other mistakes to these three that Reinhold acknowledges from the Contributions of this authority[55] who cannot [by this criterion] actually be one.

For instance, on p. 126 Reinhold felt compelled to abandon forever the intermediate standpoint that he believed he had found between Fichte’s and Jacobi’s philosophy.[56]

On p. 129 he believed, wished, etc. “that the essential core of Bardili’s philosophy could be shown to follow from that of Fichte’s and vice versa,” and “he tried quite seriously to convince Bardili that he was an idealist.” But Bardili was not to be convinced; on the contrary, it was Reinhold who was forced by Bardili’s letters (p. 130) to give up idealism altogether.

As the attempt with Bardili was a failure, Reinhold appealed urgently to Fichte to take the Outline to heart (p. 163), exclaiming: “What a triumph it would be for the good cause if Fichte could manage to penetrate through the bastion of his own terminology and yours (Bardili’s) to achieve unity with you!"[57] We all know how this turned out.[58]

Finally, with respect to Reinhold’s historical views, it should not be forgotten that things are not the way he thought when he believed he could see the whole system in one part of Schelling’s philosophy, and when he took this philosophy to be what is usually called idealism.

How things will turn out in the end for the logical reduction of philosophy is not easy to predict. As a device for keeping oneself out of philosophy, while continuing to philosophize, it is too serviceable not to be in demand. But it carries its own verdict along with it. For since it must choose one of the many possible forms of the standpoint of reflection, everyone else may create another form for himself at his own pleasure. This sort of thing is what is called “an old system being pushed out by a new system,” and so it must be called, since one is forced to take the reflective form for the essence of the system. Reinhold himself, for instance, managed to see in Bardili’s Logic a system different from the one in his own Theory.

The founding program aims to reduce philosophy to logic. In it one side of the universal need of philosophy appears and fixes itself; and as an appearance it must take its necessary, definite and objective place in the manifold of cultural tendencies which are connected with philosophy, but which assume a rigid shape before they arrive at philosophy itself. At every point on the line of its development, which it produces until it reaches its own completion and perfection, the Absolute must curb itself and organize itself into a pattern; and it appears as self-forming in this manifold.

Where the need of philosophy does not reach to the center of philosophy, it shows up the two sides of the Absolute, which is at the same time inner and outer, essence and appearance, in a sundered form, inward essence and outwards appearance separately. Outward appearance becomes for itself the absolute objective totality. It becomes the manifold dispersed ad infinitum, which manifests its nonconscious coherence with the Absolute in its striving towards infinite multitude. One must be just to this unscientific effort: in its striving to expand the empirical infinitely it does feel the need for totality; even though precisely because of this striving [towards infinity] the stuff [of experience] necessarily wears very thin in the end. This laboring over the infinite objective stuff constitutes the opposite pole to that of density, which strives to remain within the inward essence and cannot emerge from the contraction of its sterling stuff into scientific expansion. Through its infinite bustling the empirical labor causes a stir in the deadness of the essential being that it deals with, thought it does not introduce life. And whereas the Danaides could never fill up [their jars] because the water forever ran out[59] these empirical labors do not come to fruition because by constantly pouring water into their ocean they give it an infinite breadth. The Danaides could not achieve satisfaction because there always remained something that still needed to be watered; the empirical bustling, on the contrary, finds eternal nourishment in the immeasurable surface. Taking its stand upon the proverb that no created spirit penetrates into Nature’s inwardness,[60] empiricism gives up hope of creating spirit and an inwardness itself, and bringing its dead [stuff] to life as Nature. – The inward gravity of the enthusiast, on the other hand, scorns the water through whose addition the stuff might have been able to crystallize itself into a living shape. The seething urge, that originates in the natural necessity to take shape, repels the possibility of shape, and dissolves nature into spirits, forming it into shapeless shapes. Or, where reflection prevails over fancy, genuine scepticism comes into being.[61]

A false mid-point between these two poles [of dispersal into empirical acquaintance and contraction into religious enthusiasm] is constituted by a popular philosophy, a philosophy of formulae, which has grasped neither of the poles. This popular philosophy thinks it can not only please both sides by leaving the essence of each unchanged, but also let them cling together by a modification of the principles. It does not embrace both poles within itself, but rather causes the essence of both of them to disappear in its superficial modification and neighborly union. Thus popular philosophy is a stranger to both of the principles as it is to [speculative] philosophy. From the pole of dispersal, popular philosophy takes the principle of opposition. The opposites, however, are not supposed to be mere appearances and concepts ad infinitum, but one of them is itself something infinite and inconceivable. In this way the enthusiast’s desire for something supersensuous should be satisfied. But the principle of dispersal despises the supsersensuous, just as the principle of enthusiasm despises opposition to the supersensuous or [the granting of] standing for a limited entity alongside it. [Speculative] philosophy in its turn, rejects every semblance of being a mediating position that popular philosophy seeks to confer on its principle of the absolute non-identity of the finite and the infinite. That which has died the death of dichotomy philosophy raises to life again through the absolute identity. And through Reason, which devours both [finite and infinite] and maternally posits them both equally, philosophy strives towards the consciousness of this identity of the finite and the infinite, or in other words, it strives towards knowledge and truth.[62]


1. This heading is not in the first edition (a new page begins with some blank space left).

2. Compare Beyträge I, 86-7.

3. See Beyträge I, 85-6.

4. Ibid., p. 86.

5. Ibid., p. 87.

6. Reinhold does not actually quote any passages or give specific references in his first Beurteilung of Schelling’s system (Beyträge I, 85-9).

7. Schelling, Werke III, 342-3.

8. Hegel is referring especially to the first issued of the second volume of Zeitschrift für speukulative Physik. This issue contained both the controversy with Eschenmayer (see note to p. 79 above) and the new “Exposition of My System of Philosophy.”

9. The emphasis is Hegel’s rather than Schelling’s. The quotation is very much abbreviated and rather free (see Schelling, Werke IV, 75-7).

10. Compare the passages Hegel quotes on pp. 97 above and 187 below.

11. See Schelling, Werke IV, 86-104 (compare note 1 on p. 79 above).

12. Compare pp. 86-7 above and Beyträge I, passim (especially pp. 1 ff., 90 ff.).

13. Geistesverirrung. In Beyträge I, 86, Reinhold calls Schelling’s principle “the non plus ultra of all aberration (Verirrung) in speculation thus far, and even of all possible aberration.”

14. Beyträge I, 77.

15. What Reinhold said was: “It was reserved for Schelling to introduce the absolute finitude of the infinite into philosophy” (Beyträge I, 85).

16. Reinhold boasts of this “secret” that he has “revealed” in Beyträge I, 153-4 (cf. Ibid., p. 146). Bardili gives the same individualistic interpretation of idealism (Grundriss, section 15, p. 112).

* Since this was written he has done so.

[Reinhold’s article in Wieland’s Neuer Deutscher Merkur (1801, n. 3, pp. 167-93) had a preliminary note which announced: “This essay consists of fragments from a treatise in the second volume of my Contributions etc.” So Hegel knew what to expect. The “treatise” (Beyträge II, 104-40) was entitled: “On Autonomy as the Principle of the Practical Philosophy of the Kantian School – and of the Whole Philosophy of the School of Fichte and Schelling."]

17. This “public history” is in Beyträge I, “Vorrede” and pp. 118-34.

18. This acknowledged quotation is actually a conflation of two passages on the page Hegel refers to. But it is fairly exact. The context is a letter to Bardili.

19. Hegel here conflates a passage on p. III of Reinhold’s “Vorrede” with a remark on pp. V-VI.

20. The quotations and echos come from Reinhold’s “Vorrede,” p. IV-VI.

21. Compare note 3 to p. 79 above and pp. 186-8, 192-5 below.

22. Compare pp. 86-9 above.

23. Compare p. 97 above; and Reinhold, Beyträge I, 108.

24. Hegel (or his printer) made a slip in transcribing Reinhold here which we have corrected. The first edition read “Unwahre” in place of the second “Urwahre”: “... and upon truth through what is untrue.”

25. “Stuff” is the most indefinite category here. The implicit contrast is with an activity that molds or shapes “stuff.” For this activity the “stuff” is “(raw) material” as opposed to “shaped result.” But in the “shaped result” the “matter” can be distinguished from the “form” (and hence the “material” side can be opposed to the “formal” side). Thus there is an unavoidable ambiguity of contrast when “material” is used as a substantive. We use “material” only in contrast to “formal.” There are other ambiguities which only the context can clarify (and sometimes it does not do it very adequately). Thus “form” as essential is opposed to “matter,” while “form” as accidental is opposed to “content.” “Matter’ is often contrasted with “mind” or “spirit”; and “materialism” always contrasts with “idealism” but “ideal” generally contrasts with “real.” “Materiality” might be contrasted with “spirituality” – but we use it only to translate Materiatur, which seems to be Bardili’s “raw material” synonym for “stuff,” or his “prime matter” as contrasted with the “form” supplied by the “application of thought.”

26. Compare p. 88 above. The reference is to Beyträge I, 67.

27. Hegel used spread type to indicate his quotation – more exactly delimited by our quotation marks (see Beyträge I, 69).

28. See Beyträge I, 141.

29. Ibid., p. 68.

30. Ibid., p. 140.

31. Compare note 16 above.

*Reinhold here retains Jacobi’s language, but not his thought. As he says [Beyträge I, 126] he had to quit him. When Jacobi speaks of Reason as the faculty for presupposing the true [in his “Letter to Fichte,” Werke III, 32; compare Beyträge I, 124], he sets up the true, as the true being (Wesen) in contrast with formal truth; but as a sceptic he denies that the true being could be humanly known. Reinhold, on the contrary, says that he has learned to think the true – through a formal proof (Begründen). In Jacobi’s view, the true cannot be found in any such thing.

32. Only the last part of this sentence is (as shown) a direct quotation from Reinhold (Beyträge I, 73). But Hegel did not mark off the direct quotation from the exaggerated caricature of Reinhold’s style which he himself furnished as its context. We have to remember that, for the learned public of the time, Reinhold and Jacobi were luminaries (almost) as bright as Fichte and more prominent than Schelling. But perhaps only Reinhold himself would immediately known how much was quotation here, and how much was burlesque.

33. Compare Kant, Critique of Judgment, section 76.

34. Beyträge I, 91.

35. Ibid., p. 100.

36. Ibid., pp. 106-7. Compare pp. 97 and 175.

37. Ibid., p. 110 (the citation is abbreviated but direct). What follows is summarized from ibid., pp. 111-12.

38. Materiatur. See above, note 25.

39. Compare p. 97 above where the passages is more directly quoted. See also p. 176.

40. These ideas recur continually in Bardili’s Grundriss der Logik.

41. This was asserted (anonymously) by Fichte in a review of Bardili’s Grundriss published in the Erlangen Literatur Zeitung (30/31 October, 1800 – see now Werke II, 491). it is virtually certain that Hegel knew who wrote this review. Reinhold’s Elementar-Philosophy consisted of three volumes: (1) Versuch einer neuen Theorie des menschlichen Vorstellungsvermögens (1789); (2) Beiträge zur Berichtigung bisheriger Missverständnisse der Philosophie (1790); (3) Fundament des philosophischen Wissens (1791).

42. Although Hegel puts this passage in quotation marks it is in the main only a paraphrase (from Beyträge I, 128-9; the context is an “Open Letter” to Fichte).

43. The Versuch einer neuen Theorie des menschlichen Vorstellungsvermögens (more usually abbreviated as Versuch) appeared in 1789. It was the first volume of the Elementar-Philosophie (see n. 41 above).

44. See Versuch, pp. 227-91, especially pp. 230, 235, 255, 264, 267, 283. (By “Vorstellung in its narrowed sense” Reinhold means “what sensation, thought, intuition, concept, and Idea have in common”: Versuch, p. 214.)

45. As Reinhold does not seem to use this expression at all in his Versuch – which aims to be quite Kantian – we must choose between assuming that Hegel really meant to write “Bardili always says ‘application of thinking,” or else assuming that he is referring to the Reinhold of the moment who had gone to school under Bardili.

46. Hegel’s report here seems to be contrary to what Reinhold himself says in the Versuch, pp. 244 ff. Hegel seems to be replacing Reinhold’s “form” and “matter” in the Vorstellung either by its subject and object, or by the thing-in-itself and the subject-in-itself.

47. See Versuch, section XVII, pp. 244-55.

48. Compare Grundriss, pp. 31, 35, 39-40, 67, etc.

49. See Versuch, pp. 230 ff. And 304 ff.

50. See Grundriss, pp. 81, 115.

51. Bardili speaks of thinking “plunging headlong” into life (Grundriss der Logik, p. 69); and he uses the expression sich fügen (fit in) frequently (e.g., ibid., pp. 114-5).

52. The echo of Kant’s title can be heard here.

53. The Politische Journal was edited by a committee of scholars in Hamburg. We have not been able to discover whether it was still being published at this date. If it had ceased publication before July 1801 then “used to” is the proper rendering of sonst.

54. Beyträge I, iii-iv. In spite of Hegel’s quotation marks, this is not quite a direct quotation. Hegel has turned Reinhold’s first personal locutions into the third person and omitted his specification of references. The ‘proclamation at the beginning’ was in the Letters on the Kantian Philosophy; the labors in the middle were in the Versuch; and Reinhold though the revolution had reached its end in Fichte’s Wissenschaftslehre.

55. We read von dieser instead of vor dieser.

56. The transcendental idealists accused Jacobi of “dogmatism” (by which they meant what in pre-Wittgensteinian epistemological controversies would have been classified as realism – more particularly as an empirical realism with a religious basis). Hegel’s assault on Jacobi’s empirico-religious realism can be found in the “Jacobi” section of Faith and Knowledge.

57. This quotation is from one of the published letters of Reinhold to Bardili. Reinhold subsequently published their correspondence as a book (Munich, 1804) with the subtitle “On the Essential Being of Philosophy and the Non-Being of Speculation.”

58. This is probably a reference to Fichte’s review of Bardili’s Grindriss der Logik (Fichte, Werke II, 490-504); Reinhold commented on this review (in Beyträge I, 113-34) and Fichte retorted again in a pamphlet (Tübingen, 1801; see Werke II, 504-34).

59. Forty-nine of the fifty daughters of Danaus murdered the husbands they were forced to marry. For this they were condemned in Hades to pour water into a sieve (or alternatively a pot with a hole in it). Hegel does not mention the utensil so we cannot be sure which version he had in mind, but he had probably read Lucretius, who speaks of a pot (III, 1009). It is quite likely that he also has in mind Plato’s comparison of the sensual man’s life to a leaky pot (Gorgias, 493-4). If this is right then he means to contrast the endless flowing away of experience in practical life, with its endless flowing in upon the theoretical investigator.

60. Hegel referred to Albrecht von Haller’s pious poem “Human Virtues” several times in his books and lectures. This is the first occasion – but see also Faith and Knowledge (p. 174). Lines 289-90 of the poem, which achieved the status of a proverb, ran: “Ins Innre der Natur dringt kein erschaffner Geist / Zu glücklich, wenn sie noch die äussre Schale weis’t / Das hör’ ich sechzig Jahre wiederholen / Ich fluche drauf, aber verstohlen: / Sage mir tausend tausend Male / Alles gibt sie reichlich und gern; / Natur hat weder Kern noch Schale, / Alles ist sie mit einem Male.” (Adapting Wallace slightly we may render the comment thus: “I swear – of course but to myself – as rings within my ears / That same old warning o'er and o'er again for sixty years, / And thus a thousand thousand times I answer in my mind: – / Nature has neither core nor rind / But all in each both rind and core has evermore combined.” This response delighted Hegel as soon as he saw it. He cited it in the Encyclopaedia of 1830 [§ 140 Anm.].)

61. Here the cultural situation of German is characterized through an analogy drawn from Schelling’s “construction” of the Potenz of light in his philosophy of nature (compare what Hegel says about this on pp. 168-9 above, and the discussion in the Introduction, pp. 55-6). At this “level,” the active power of light is alien to the dark and dead matter which is the dependent focus of gravitational force. But in the phenomena of crystallization this opposition is overcome. The crystal forms itself by precipitation from a watery medium; and instead of simply repelling light, it focuses it, reflects it in an intensified form, or breaks it up and transforms it, etc. In Schelling’s construction, water, which is the medium of crystallization, is said to be potenzlos (i.e., unable to give itself shape, unable to crystallize itself). (Darstellung [1801], section III, Werke IV, 182).

The formal principle of identity in the logic of Reinhold and Bardili is similarly potenzlos (i.e., unable to generate and shape its own content). Anyone who accepts the Ding an sich will find that his absoltue or philosophical knowledge is thus watery. From the point of view of a speculative comprehension of nature as a whole, all the labors of the empirical scientists, when poured into the formal patterns of such a logic as this, are an ocean of water poured into a leaky pot or through a sieve. It runs away uselessly and no philosophical insight into nature is gained. This is the point of Hegel’s Danaid metaphor.

On the other side stands the mystic who has an “intuition” of the absolute Whole. He has the (dark, impervious) raw material for crystallization, but he needs the water of finite experience as a medium. Then his mystic fervor can crystallize into genuine speculative knowledge. (The remark about “shapeless shapes” may be a glancing hit at Schleiermacher, whose religious ideal is said to be “art without the work of art” in Faith and Knowledge.)

The birth of “genuine scepticism” through the prevailing of “reflection over fancy” should most probably be taken as comment on the outcome of Kant’s third Critique. Hegel would be more willing to grand the status of a genuine sceptic to Kant himself than to a declared sceptic among the epigones, like G. E. Schulze. This is evident from his long review of Schulze, published in 1802, for which see N. K. A. IV, 197-238.

62. This paragraph compares two ways of mediating the extremes of finite cognition and infinite enthusiasm. “Popular” philosophy offers a false mean in which each extreme is allotted to a world of its own (and each world is an object of belief or faith rather than of genuine knowledge). Thus the “principle of opposition” between subject and object is preserved in both realms. In this world experience continually accumulates, but the ultimate reality eludes us and makes its home in the other. This side-by-side conciliation is unacceptable to serious adherents of either principle. (If we want to put a name to this extreme it is worth remembering that Fichte remarks on the “formula-method” that Bardili used to achieve a standpoint between Fichte’s and Jacobi’s: Werke II, 491.)

The true mean of speculative philosophy suspends the principle of opposition and replaces faith with knowledge. It unites the rational identity of the empiricist with the density of religious experience in a philosophical “crystallization.” Thus the opposed principles of the two poles are reunited in the absolute indifference point. The one world of nature and intelligence is seen from the standpoint of the divine creative act: the “beginning of the Word from the beginning.”


Hegel-by-HyperText Home Page @ marxists.org